the poetry that matters

Zarina Zabrisky

Zarina Zabrisky is the author of two short story collections IRON and A CUTE TOMBSTONE (Epic Rites Press) and a novel WE, MONSTERS (forthcoming in 2013 from Numina Press).  Zabrisky's work appeared in over twenty literary magazines and anthologies in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Hong Kong and Nepal. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a finalist in The Normal School's Prize in Fiction, and a recipient of 2013 Acker Award.




darkness or light

in a bulbous drop

all is one

the bells toll noon

noontide call in the reeds

by your creek

the bright white light

enters your wide open eye

in the middle of your burst open forehead

descends down the column of yours spine

gushes water like down

pours into my

yearning second mouth

hits my tailbone

spirals up my spine

vertebrae by vertebrae

the ancient abacus of ivory days

beads of compliance


disspelling the myths and fairy tales

folk songs strings

smell of guitar, amber and endless nights

before electricity

before alphabets

before before







last night

in the blackness of dream soil

i uncovered an archaic language

--slavic or semitic--

dead now,

used only for rituals and sermons

roots sprouted tails and wings

words were nouns and verbs and adjectives

all at once

they clustered

turnip, beet-like

midnight spider-bat-carrots

with orange and yellow antenna knots

hair ends split

clods of rich mud stuck to the appendages

i felt their smooth clay on my aching fingertips

molecules of essence

microcosms of meaning

mollusks of reason



ripe, rotten

fruity and chewy

without even being peeled

they shot unbearable sweetness

into my mind palate

arches of root roofs

hyphens of syllable bridges

dead morphems

long-forgotten grammar

unfurled like tea-roses

in a shady garden

of Proust twilight


shadow swallow flight like

and i saw

the open-close open-close rhythm

of it all

felt its primordial pulse

inside of the dark cavity of my stomach, no, lower, deeper

i knew the acute pleasure spasms:

the curves of my womb

my womanly self

open-close ocean orchid cosmos

blood red velvet cloister

does that

when you were inside of me

when we were soaked

in sea-salt scent of seaweed and love

in this wet language

i sighed my silence

into the seashell of your ear

i wept the forest bear of my fear

on your chest

and you heard me

you knew

the code to the redwood doors

of my soul

in the morning

you washed off the dirt and darkness

with warm sunlit water

showing me the world as is: infinite







Dancing on the rooftops

Stars in my ink well

Sparks of fireworks

Aquamarine flames


A razor pen carving

Loops  of light in the sky pie


Sweet meat of life

Its juicy ripe middle

Its sticky sauce on my fingertips

Already rotting

Yet delicious

Mango-golden cherry-bleeding


Never enough for

My unquenchable thirst

Of a wandering Bedouin

In blazing Sahara

In mirage full Africa


In elusive dreams

In Australia bushes

Jumping shadows





My greedy cells twitch

In every moment of Universe


Universe is purple with a velvet lining

Like dark chocolate it shoots into your palate

It lingers like a black cat’s back under a pale lady’s palm


Time is orangey tangy with a buttery curve

A goldfish of desire

An enchantress, a tease, invitation to обман, to  обморок

To theatrical lies in sable mantle

Oily swerve of Siberian furs

Smelly skins of animals

Living in their leathery fragrance

After dying

Salts in a crystal bottle, don’t faint,

Egyptian scarabs slightly moving their feelers

A lurking smile in the shadowy corner of the Sphinx’s lips


Space is ochre yellow like clay

Like a swallow’s nest in the bank of the muddy river

Wax candle in a monk’s cell

Elongated and smooth like bullets

A wall always setting a limit

A shark’s fin cutting

The smoothness of the wave

A light stutter imposing on time’s fluidity


Infinity is green like Greek sea

Horizon line is rotating

Suspended like Calder’s mobile

It’s turning into a point

Into a dot

An inside of a heroin needle

Piercing the skin

Dilating pupil of a gun

Black hollow

A railing of endless stairs

The only steel track

On which

A never ending invisible train

Is balancing


An ellipsis shrunk

A pyramid of dots

One two three


Immortality is marble white

Unclean with pigeon’s dropping

Uneven columns of classicism

Against the the apron-yellow palace walls

A cemetery silence

A parchment paper bald and naked

With a little lick at the end

Mucosal saliva of the dead

Stale and stable

Who needs it


I want to live between the letters on a creamy page

Swim in heavy whipped cream and vanilla yellow

Ivory smooth

Dissolve in the polar light of vowels

I’m the fingers of the blind

Groping the curves of consonants

Feeling their uncanny surfaces


I only breathe

In drafts and undercurrents

And angles and shipwrecks of sentences

In pauses mountain tops between paragraphs



In the safety of letter zigzags

In alive palettes of sounds

And dancing shoots of language lianas

In the lusty petals of syllables

In the indecent pulse of rhythm

In the steamy jungles of words

In the liquid skies of allusions

In the chimerical world of metaphors

In the winged air of literature

Where everything is twisted, dusky,

Smells like sex, like musk, like blood,

Like decaying sweet orchids

Tastes like spices and sea salt

Sticks to your skin like tar

Stays with you forever

Tattooed on your viscera:

Danger, jewels and pleasure

Pirates, prostitutes and parrots

Like Odessa seaport

of my childhood


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                                                                                                              October 14, 2013